Carpenter died with a secret that sent 33 people to college

Dale Schroeder was a frugal man who worked as a carpenter for 67 years, wore two pairs of jeans — for church and work — and drove a rusty old Chevy truck.

When he died in 2005 at age 86, the Iowa native’s closest friends didn’t know he secretly amassed close to $3 million in savings.


“All we ask is that you pay it forward. You can’t pay it back, because Dale is gone, but you can remember him and you can emulate him.”


“I nearly fell out of my chair,” his friend Steve Nielsen recounted to CBS Des Moines affiliate KCCI in an interview about the lives Schroeder impacted since his passing.

According to his pal, the longtime Moehl Millwork employee saved up a fortune over the years and wanted to empower others with it.

“He said, ‘I never got the opportunity to go to college. So, I’d like to help kids go to college,'” Nielsen said about Schroeder, who didn’t have any living descendants.

His specific instructions for his money were to send small-town Iowa kids to college.

The substantial nest egg helped change the lives of 33 people.

Kira Conard was one of the beneficiaries of Schroeder’s generosity.

Aspiring to become a therapist, her dreams of higher education seemed out of reach since she grew up in a single parent household with three older sisters.

“[It] almost made me feel powerless,” she said. “Like, I want to do this. I have this goal, but I can’t get there just because of the financial part.”

When Nielsen called and told her that her $80,000 tuition bill would be covered by Schroeder’s scholarship, she said she broke down into tears immediately.

“For a man that would never meet me, to give me basically a full ride to college, that’s incredible. That doesn’t happen.”

Nielsen said he wanted to help kids that were like him, that probably would have an opportunity to go to college but for his gift.

Today, the 33 strangers have formed a group and call themselves “Dale’s kids.” Comprised of doctors, teachers and therapists, they recently gathered to honor Schroeder for changing their lives.

There was only one catch to his gift giving — make sure it goes onward.

“All we ask is that you pay it forward,” Nielsen said. “You can’t pay it back, because Dale is gone, but you can remember him and you can emulate him.”

Source: NYDN